- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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When the Steelers return from their bye week, improving the run game should top the team's to-do list. Why do I say this?
Everyone knows that the Steelers' ground game is struggling. But a tip of the hat to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for putting the struggles into context.
The Steelers' run game is off to its worst start in 62 years. You read that correctly: 1950. Gas sold for 20 cents per gallon, the Browns won the NFL championship and Chuck Noll was 18 years old.
Pittsburgh's ground game is also terrible by current standards as well. The Steelers rank 30th in rushing yards per game (65.0). They're tied for last in yards per carry (2.6). No running back has cracked 50 yards in a game, much less 100. The longest run was 13 yards by Isaac Redman.
“We’ve got talented receivers, we’ve got a Superman at quarterback, and it’s easy to say that the pass is doing better,” left guard Willie Colon told the Tribune-Review. “To kind of sum it all up, we’ve got to put in more work.”
What's wrong with the Steelers' run game? It's the running backs. Without their leading rusher from the previous three seasons (Rashard Mendenhall), Redman and Jonathan Dwyer haven't been able to fill the void. The offensive line is basically the same one (except for Colon) as last season, when the Steelers ranked 14th in the NFL in rushing. This year's running backs for the Steelers also rank near the bottom of the league in yards before contact.
There's a chance that the Steelers can turn around the ground game. Mendenhall could return after the bye after having ACL surgery in January. The Steelers hope that it's the Mendenhall from 2010 (1,273 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns) and not the one from 2011 (928 rushing yards and nine touchdowns).